Block only pedophile websites says Indian government after its earlier order causes huge public outcry

We had said on Monday, that the Indian government had erred big time in ordering the Indian Internet service providers to block 857 websites without consideration of public opinion. The government had to quickly retract from its position yesterday.

As soon as the the confidential directive came out into open after the ISPs sneakily started blocking websites like College Humor, 9GAG and porn websites like Clips4Sale, Pornhub, Xvideos etc. it sparked a furious debate on Reddit, tech forums, social media like Facebook, Twitter. All were filled with posts opposing the governments arbitrary action. Some went to the extent of calling the present BJP ruled government a Talibani government and ban government.

Faced with continuing flak. the government on Tuesday reviewed its order and decided to lift ban on those sites which did not contain pornographic material but block only those sites which contained pedophile content.

A source told the The Hindu, “The government has decided that the ban will be partially lifted. The Supreme Court petition pertained to child pornography, so sites promoting it will continue to be under the ban. A communication will soon be sent out to Internet services providers. Other considerations will be looked into after court hearing.”

The decision follows a review of the earlier order, wherein the Department of Telecom had asked Internet service providers (ISPs) to block a total of 857 websites, although some websites were found to be hosting jokes, memes and other humourous content without any pornography.

After the public outcry, India’s Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad held a high-level review meeting today, which was attended by IT Secretary RS Sharma and Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand, among others. It was decided in the meeting that the ISPs would be immediately asked not to block those sites which do not contain pornographic material, including child pornography, Prasad said.

Asked why the GOI issued the orders in the first place, the Minister said, “The instant action is basically in obedience to the observation of the Supreme Court where the court asked the department to take action on the list of alleged porn sites provided by the petitioner.”

Commenting on the public outrage, the minister siad Reacting to the outrage against the move, Prasad said “I reject with contempt the charge that it is a Talibani government, as being said by some of the critics. Our government supports free media, respect communication on social media and has respected freedom of communication always.”

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